Why Effectiveness Is Not A Good Criteria for Giving

“Are you going to give money to support the conference I’ll be speaking at in Uganda?” I asked my friend who also has his own ministry.

“I’m not sure those types of events are effective. I question whether they make any real difference,” he said.

“So you want to be sure every charitable dollar you give has a good return?” I asked.

“That’s right.”

“I disagree with this as your priority in giving. I don’t think you can ever know for sure,” I said. “I believe your higher priority in charitable giving should be to support your friends. Support them in the charitable work they are truly engaged in. The work where they are sacrificing their time, treasure and talent.”

“You are totally committed to your ministry,” I continued. “I would contribute to your ministry even if the work of your ministry wasn’t important to me. I would contribute because you are my friend and it is important to you.”

Blind Giving Seems Better

Giving money away is difficult. Like my friend, I want it to really count, to make a difference in people’s lives. This sometimes leads to paralysis by analysis.

In fact, the closer I get to any ministry, the greater my concerns. The more I know, the deeper the questions. The deeper the questions, the more prominent the problems.

It is easy to give money to charities I know nothing about. They may be in my interest area of giving, but I have no idea how effective or well run they are. Great website, wonderful direct mail, on point messaging, great video, engaging leader, but do I really know?

The conversation with my friend really helped me clarify how I should spend my charitable giving.

Support Yourself

I am personally involved with Hands of Love in Uganda. Kathy and I have supported Pastor Elijah and his wife, Ruth, for over eight years.

When I met Pastor Elijah in 2008, he knew all of three people in the United States. I fell in love with him and his godly vision. He spends every day transforming the nation of Uganda for Christ by inspiring, educating and mentoring the next generation of Christian leaders.

My network was the seed capital which launched his fundraising in the United States. Three years ago, Kathy and I spoke to over six thousand of those leaders at Youth Ablaze, his annual leadership conference. We also spoke last year and will do it again in September, this time to eight thousand people. We are committed.

This is the best place for me to contribute. I see the results first hand. We are all in.

Support Close Friends

Most of my close friends are involved in ministries here and throughout the world. They are passionate and engaged in these ministries first hand. Like Kathy and me, they are all in with their time, talent, and treasure.

This is a great place for me to invest. Who better to invest in than friends? I love them and trust them. We are doing life together, and this is just one more step in our relationship.

I’m not talking about the friend who is simply serving on the board of a nonprofit. I’m talking about the friend who is working in the nonprofit. He is a big part of their strategy in serving their constituency.

Support Great Causes

My heart breaks for things such as poverty, children, mothers, evangelism, diseases, animals, and natural disasters. We are all different and come from different backgrounds with different experiences. This is what shapes our giving.

They are all good causes, but I encourage you to go deep with a few nonprofits. Make it your goal to move from “supporting great causes” to “supporting your close friends” to “supporting yourself.” Use your donation to begin building relationships with the people who are serving the people you want to help.

If you do this, you might just find yourself supporting yourself and asking your friends to support you. Get involved. Give your time. Go where God is sending you. Listen to your heart.

Pastor Elijah tells the people he meets he does not want their money. He wants them to come visit him and the orphans he serves in Uganda. He knows support grows from relationship. When you go, you’ll know.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

4 thoughts on “Why Effectiveness Is Not A Good Criteria for Giving

  1. I’ve given some thought to carefree giving verses efficient giving. You know the Bible commands us to give, but never to give efficiently. In fact, the Bible is full of extravagant gifts. Water jug brought to David. Perfume on Jesus’ feet. So many others. They are extravagant because they were not efficient. I’ve come to the conclusion that the root of efficient giving is pride. We want “our” dollars to do something. That is pride. As CS Lewis said, “Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.”

  2. Charlie,

    This is a great article and is reflective of our attitude as well. We trust our friends in their ministries. When you are invested in the relationship, giving is a bigger blessing to the giver than the receiver. I tell my missionary and ministry friends all of the time… ASK! We want to help.

    • I agree. I am amazed at how many people do not ask and are disappointed their ministry is not supported. Ask and you shall receive.

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